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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Microphone makes a difference

Yes, this is simple enough insight. It took a while to arrive at but I got there today, finally. One, the problem I have had with my MP3 player may really have been the microphone all along. It is a small unit from Giant Squid.

I had purchased a stereo mic at Radio Shack and had trouble setting it up. If I set it to record mono, I got nothing. If I set it to record stereo it did record.

Come to find out:
The iRiver recorder requires a mono microphone to have a certain type of mono plug in order to record in the mono mode. If the Iriver detects a stereo plug it will automatically switch to stereo mode.

To avoid this the "+" of the mic has to be connected to the the ring of the plug. "Tip" is left open. The Iriver thus detects it as a mono mic.

Our iRiver Omni Mono Microphones are wired this way.
So that is why!

I ordered a new one today.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Pisani Field elevator 3

Pisani Field elevator 3
Originally uploaded by shersteve
Yes, the elevator provides access to the press box and a protected area to view the field.

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Pisani Field elevator 2

Pisani Field elevator 2
Originally uploaded by shersteve
The elevator opens at the top level of the stands but as the stairs indicate, provides only one option for the wheelchair once you are up that high.

to be continued...

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Pisani Field elevator 1

Pisani Field elevator 1
Originally uploaded by shersteve
The new stands at Pisani Field in Franklin now have an elevator for the handicapped. There already was a ramp which would get you into the stands on the lower level. This elevator apparently was installed in the last two weeks.

to be continued

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Ireland vs. Bolivia; 5/26/07

Ireland vs. Bolivia; 5/26/07
Originally uploaded by shersteve
The first game Saturday at Gillette Stadium was an international friendly featuring Ireland vs. Bolivia. Two goals were scored in the first 14 minutes and that was the way it ended. A 1 to 1 tie.

The second game featured the Revolution vs. the Kansas City Wizards. The Revs ended up on the short end of that result 4-3.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

sherku: What is GEL?

A sherku answering the question: What is GEL?

Time: 25 seconds

MP3 File

What is a sherku?

For other writings on GEL 2007, GEL 2006, GEL 2005

The text version of this can be found here

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sherku: What is GEL?

What is GEL?

New York springs gellin'
food spirited conversations
good experience live

What is a sherku?

For other writings on GEL 2007, GEL 2006, GEL 2005

The podcast version of this can be found here

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Wizards 4, Revs 3

Yes, lots of goals at Gillette tonight but the Revs were on the short end.

It started well. Ralston followed up on his own shot that Kevin Hartman couldn't hold on to and the second time found the net.

In the 23rd minute, Taylor made it 2-0 with a sweet finish.

Unfortunately within two minutes, it was tied at 2-2. Eddie Johnson and Davy Arnaud finding some gaps in the defense and ultimately hit the net.

Then in the 38th minute Eddie Johnson found the net for the second time to give the Wizards the lead going into the half, 3-2.

The Revs subbed for Dorman (should have done so for Khano Smith but... ) to move Ralston inside and Wells Thompson took Ralston wide spot. This added some spark to the attack and eventually lead to a handball by the Wizards in the box to give the Revs the penalty shot which Shalrie made sure of. This tied the game but not for long.

Eddie Johnson hit for the hat trick in the 82 minutes to give the lead back to the Wizards were it finished 4-3.

Now historically, the Revs don't do well against the Wizards but they really play a very similar game. Tough midfield play springs action on the wings to cross into the box. The Wizards were more successful tonight with their crosses from closer to the midfield line putting the pressure on isolated defenders. The Revs tended to bring their crosses in from inside the 18. By that time, the defense tends to be pretty ready for them.

The Revs will need to adjust to be successful.

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IRA Toyota - Milford; Great Service

I wanted to get our 1997 Toyota Camry serviced. We had just obtained from within the family for Allison. The odometer has just turned 150,000 miles but the car is in great condition and had been running well. We had an added incentive to get it serviced as the "Check engine" light popped on. I googled for Toyota dealers and found IRA had just opened a location in Milford. I followed the link to find their web site to see what they had for service hours, etc.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a "Service wizard" available. You create an account, specify the standard details about the car (make, model, year, mileage). If you add the VIN, they will be able to provide and maintain additional details.

The slickest part of the wizard was the capability to pick a service and schedule a date. Depending upon what service you picked, the calendar changed. This wasn't any old calendar. This was dynamic. Clearly, they had predefined the capability of handling some number of services per day. It was likely also interactive depending upon what was already scheduled for that day. This all makes wonderful sense but I had not seen this before.

I went ahead and scheduled the service for Monday AM planning to drop the car off Sunday night. Saturday, we received an email reminding us of the service scheduled for the car. Sunday, Allison and I drive over to their location, pull into the lot following the "Service" sign and find lanes specially marked for night drop off. There were already some cars in the lanes so we found a spot. The box on the wall had a pen and several forms. We filled out one and put the keys in the envelop through the clearly marked "key drop" slot. This group has figured out service and seems to have thought of everything. The drive home continued the conversation on how well they have planned for service; web site wizard, email reminders, lanes for drop off, etc. Well done!

Monday morning, I walk down to the train station. The weather is good. The mile walk is easy. Just as I am arriving in Boston about 7:30 AM, I noticed I had missed a call on my cell phone. Yes, IRA Service was already calling. The car had been scheduled for a 7:00 appointment. They had already diagnosed the "Check engine" code and reviewed the cost for parts, labor, etc to fix it. It would take more than one day as they needed to order the parts but they also offered a free loaner. I authorized the service and let Allison know. We elected not to take the loaner at this time as our schedules could accommodate missing a car. [Now that the girls are home from college, we have four workers and four cars.]

Tuesday morning, another call from IRA. The parts ordered did arrive but there was a problem with one of them. Apparently one of the boxes had already been opened and the part inside was not what it claimed to be on the outside. It would be another day to get the part. This time we elected to obtain the free loaner. I took an early train to meet Allison and drive to IRA. We were very quickly and professionally greeted and delivered the keys to a brand new 2007 Camry (only 20 miles on it) to take as the loaner. Allison was excited. I was pleased with the ease of the whole transaction driving away in less than 20 minutes. I don't think obtaining a rental when I have traveled was as easy.

Wednesday afternoon, another phone call. The part did arrive but they wouldn't be able to finish before the day ended.

Thursday afternoon, another call. They "check engine" code has cleared but the transmission is skipping 2nd gear. They wanted to keep the car to continue to work that item. Allison had been scheduled to go camping with some friends this weekend and had stuff in the trunk for the trip. She went over and moved the camping stuff from one car to the other. The mechanics teased her. If they had known what food stuff (packaged snacks, trail mix, etc.) had been left in the car, they might have sampled it. Allison was impressed with the garage. She was surprised to see how clean it was.

Friday morning, another call. This one to say the car was ready. There was an additional labor charge due to the work cleaning the transmission valve but it wasn't much more than originally estimated. Not sure what train I would catch to be able to get to swap cars (yes, I was driving the new loaner today; Allison had my car to head to the camping trip), I paid by credit card over the phone and just needed to get there to hand in the keys on the loaner.

The Friday afternoon transaction went easily and quickly. As I drove home, I was considering all that happened this week. The service has been great. From the web site wizard, the email reminder, the phone call half hour after the scheduled appointment, the estimate and status calls. The time delays were dealt with professionally. All for a vehicle not purchased at this dealer. I do have another Toyota and I know where I will take it for warranty service.

This was a good experience!

Have you had service with IRA at one of their other locations? How is it? I am curious.

Updated: They really do service properly, there was an email survey this evening following up on the service this week. Simple only a few questions, mostly yes/no but all importantly, a box for comments, and a check box to request a contact by the service manager.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Five for Friday

As part of catching up in this new life after the override vote, I offer these five quick points of interest for your Friday reading.

1 - Roger von Oechs - Breastfeeding Icons (update)
yes, Roger provides some insights into the new international icon to depict a breastfeeding approved area.

2 - Rhea at the Boomer Chronicles introduces us to The most powerful personal search engine in the world. It is interesting what it found for me. As much for the accurate as well as inaccurate and the other Stephen Sherlocks that I was not aware of yet.

3 - An old one from Susan Kitchens at 2020 Hindsight but very appropriate for a Friday: Helvetica Haiku. Okay, maybe it's just me. I admit to an interest in haiku so much that I have my own sherku.

4 - From Robert Fulgham, some wonderful insights as usual (along with the unusual, of course).

5 - Scott Berkun is looking for help to spread the word about his new book: Myths of Innovation.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

NYC Diversity

NYC Diversity
Originally uploaded by shersteve.
Gotta love the city.
Simple little block.
Choice of foods.

Don't find something you want, go to the next one!

GEL Couplets

In an attempt to answer the question: What is GEL? I have the following couplets to offer. These are developmental steps towards one or more GEL sherku.

What is GEL?

Gathered energetic latticework
Gradually extending life


Geocentric ethereal libation
Greatness ever lasting


Gymnastic evocative lyrics
Goodness expanding limits


Glutinous earthly ladder
Good experience lives

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Jed Diamond needs your help!

Jed Diamond sent an email soliciting help in filling out a questionnaire. He describes it:
As those of you who have followed my work are aware, depression runs in my family. My father tried to commit suicide when I was five. Though he didn't die, he was hospitalized for many years and our lives were never the same. I'm sure my experiences have something to do with my professional journey. For the last 42 years I have focused my efforts on helping men and the women who love them. I am conducting a study which I hope can give us the information to help men who may be depressed. Here's how you can help.

I have developed a questionnaire to help us better understand how men and women deal with stress and experience depression. The questionnaire takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Please go to this link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=645393528624 fill in your answers. We're hoping to get a large sample of men and women, depressed and non-depressed.

"Women seek help--men die." This conclusion was drawn from a recent study of suicide prevention by Professor J. Angst (yes that really is his name) and C. Ernst. They found that 75% of those who sought professional help in an institution for suicide prevention were female. Conversely 75% of those who committed suicide in the same year were male.

Take a few minutes, follow the link and help Jed.


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GEL2007 - Day 2 - Session 4

Dan Dubno
was joined by Greg Harper to present a quick and wild overview of technology gadgets while simultaneously delivering and reinforcing the point that “youthful experimentation is an important part of creativity”.

Jim Baumgardner is interested in randomness, complexity, usefulness and uselessness. “Randomness us complexity that we don’t understand.” He referenced John Whitney, incremental drift, then he had the crowd participate in the Whitney Music box, a wild and wonderful experience.

Robert Fox, Danish film maker, is putting together a film documentary on the Thule airbase built in northern Greenland and operated by the US during the cold war years. There was a nuclear disaster there for which they evacuated many of the natives. One of the natives has come forward with his own camera footage of life in and around Thule over the years. 30 years of 8mm film footage that is priceless in its story telling.

Ira Glass, writer, producer of This American Life He spoke of excitement, that the passion comes from within, that seriousness and funniness can never collide. That the world is a place where surprise and joy exist. Ira looks to portray people at exactly their human scale.

He spoke about the structure of the story. To be interesting, it must carry well. The sequence of action is not about logic, it is about motion. Just start the action, then you’re in the middle and can’t get out. Cringe; the human body moving in fear for an instant. Jump to the bigger moment. What’s the bigger universal story.

Action, action, action, thought

He closed with a story of Mary Zimmerman, director of The Arabian Nights, how Scheherazade told a tale daily and eventually saved her own life. The power of narrative is a back door to deep inside of us.

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GEL2007 - Day 2 - Session 3

Phil Terry spoke briefly to endorse the copy of Bit Literacy; Mark Hurst’s new book which was included in our GEL bag. Mark has been working towards this concept for sometime and has finally published his writings in a book format. It is now on my reading list.

Charlie Todd, founder of Improv Everywhere, reviewed highlights from the Slo’ Mo Home Depot event. It was hilarious.

John Williams, founder of Frog’s Leap Winery, told the story on how the winery came together, how they operate, how they are green. All to the backdrop of a slide show with scenes from the winery.

Erin McKean
, Editor in Chief of United States Dictionaries for Oxford University Press (one of the youngest editors in chief of one of the five major American dictionaries). Erin presented a quick recap of her afternoon session on Day 1 where they created words.
The winning word? It was crappyjack 'any kind of empty, snacky junk food', created by Karen Watts. The two runners-up were drunch 'to consume alcoholic beverages with like-minded individuals between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday', coined by Lizzy Klein, and mispronoonce 'a jocular way of saying 'mispronounce', to be used in the first person after a particularly embarrassing mispronunciation: Oh, gosh, I mispronoonced that, didn't I?' which was coined by Nick Baum.
Erin posted the full listing of the words created on one of her blogs. You can find that here.

ES made a wonderfully crafted natural presentation. She used/referenced almost every presentation thus far in her brief but insightful talk. “There is spiritual crappyjack.” There has been a sacred meal in all societies through out all time. She told the story of meeting with Nathaniel, a would be mugger, on 28th Street. How she avoided being mugged, and their relationship after that critical time.

John McDowell
John was the composer for the music soundtrack of “Born into Brothels”, the Oscar winning documentary in 2006.

His group played wonderfully to close out this session. It was appropriate to close here. No one could have followed that experience.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

GEL 2007 Collection

Here is the collection of my postings on the Good Experience Live 2007 Conference held in NYC on April 19 & 20, 2007.

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GEL2007 - Day 2 - Session 2

Robin Burgener is the creator of the 20Q ball and 20Q.net. The game is really the normal 20 questions just some simple coding to help the logic actually learn via a neural network. 90% of all the games center on 100 objects; this is better than the 80-20 rule. The number one object is a carrot. The game (online version at least) is built by every use. There was a challenge to restructure the code to fit within the confines of the ball but they overcame those challenges and it works well. 50 million games had been played online by the time the conference was held.

Marie Lorenz talked about her water taxi service located in NYC, the “Tide and Current Taxi”. It is stilted somewhat in her favor. The riders don’t always get where they want to but she always gets a story. Her service lives on the edge of what is permitted.

Henning Rubsam
talked about Sensedance, his effort to bring a better awareness to dance and how body language can be effectively used and appreciated. He spoke in a number of ways to be aware of and open to the senses. With our arms by our side, we are contained. With our arms extended, brought forward, we are reaching and at the same time giving.

Doug Quin had us listen. Yes, listen. The lights in the theater were dimmed to take away the visual distractions and enable us to concentrate on what he played for us. He had recorded a variety of birds in the wild, deep in the jungles, and walruses/seals under the ice in Antarctica. The sounds were amazing. His point was simply to be aware of the sounds around us.

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GEL2007 - Day 2 - Session 1

Mark Hurst is creating a community of folks interested in “good experience”. This year’s theme was “food and spirit”. He talked of his visit to Napa Valley and Frog’s Leap Winery. “… some spirit infuses the goodness of the outcome…”

Danny Meyer
opened the Friday session talking about hospitality and how he has organically grown his business from a single restaurant to multiple restaurants in NYC. He said we are all looking to replicate the experience of when we were just born; we received eye contact, we were acknowledged, we were hugged and we received some great food.

Chris Jordan
is now an artist but did spend time in the corporate arena as a lawyer. He is looking to present data on some of our significant problems in a way that makes the data become emotionally engaging. Data and numbers by and large are rather dry. His art starts with a picture and then he uses PhotoShop to multiply the images to create the numerical impact.

Peter Skillman is the ‘usability guy’ for Palm. He talked about learning to fail, early, and often, ultimately to create a better experience. He described a project he has taken to multiple groups from kindergartners to business school candidates. The group is given a small set of materials, some tape, dry spaghetti, a marshmallow, etc. The objective is to create the tallest structure that will support the marshmallow. The kindergartners have the record for the tallest structure and generally will create a structure more than one inch taller than the business school candidates. How do they do this? Less fear. More openness to trying something.

Andrew writes songs and maintains the web site “songs to wear pants to”. He shared a dozen songs or so specifically generated from user requests. He has over 300 currently on the web site.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

GEL2007 - Day 1 - PM Session

I chose to participate in the Community Building exercise for the afternoon session. This workshop, facilitated by Phillip and Andrea Spencer-Linzie, is based on the "community building" process developed by M. Scott Peck, author of “The Road Less Traveled”. Participants practice ways of being together that create the possibility for authentic connection. There were multiple reasons for me to participate in this session. I thought I would be able to leverage what I learned. I was disappointed in that due to the short time allocated we did not really get into an “authentic connection” but made some good steps along the way. Given that this workshop can be delivered in a 1-day, 2-day, 3-day or 7-day format led me to provide feedback that it should be renamed “a taste of” or “an insight into” because you can’t build a community in less that three hours.

The initial posting on this session can be found here.

Note: the picture did not come out as well as I would have liked but I found it interesting. We are on the 10th floor, lower Manhattan, the window is reinforced and there is barbed wire on the outside window sill. And we are inside learning about building a community.

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GEL2007 - Day 1 - AM Session

I chose to learn how to juggle with the Flying Karamazov Brothers for the morning session. I can’t keep three balls in the air yet but I know what I need to do and it will take time and practice to do so. The benefits of that level of mind body coordination I think will be beneficial. We need to be able to work each side of the body in a similar manner. If one side is stronger than the other, or more developed, or more coordinated, then the balance of the body is off and juggling becomes a challenge. More importantly, there may very well be other aspects of life that are challenging. I found it interesting that my wife who teaches kindergarten has as one of their regular activities what they call “brain gym” exercises. These exercises are very similar to what is required to juggle.

Previous post on this session (with picture)

Previous posts on FKB from GEL 2005

Note: picture taken during the demonstration after our lesson.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Rolodex strikes again

The power of the Rolodex strikes again. The Boston Globe article outlining the commencement speakers for the local graduation ceremonies mentions:

Relying on a 25-year-old connection, J. Bonnie Newman, interim president of the University of New Hampshire, zipped off an e-mail to former President George H.W. Bush.

She wrote on Nov. 2 that she "felt compelled to go with the best of the best," so she was inviting him and former President Bill Clinton to speak at today's graduation. Two days later, she scored. Her former boss accepted.

A month later, she had a double coup: Clinton agreed to share the dais.

In nabbing high-profile commencement speakers, sometimes it's all in whom you know. Behind many of the star speakers is a personal tie with a university president, a trustee, or an alumnus.

Yesterday, it was the Rolodex. Today, it can be any number of online tools.

Bottom line, it is a connection, a relationship that can be leveraged for mutual benefit.

How do you connect? Are you a relationship geek?

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

Wishing a happy, healthy and enjoyable family day to all the Mothers in this wonderful world!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Fancy TV not worth it

The hotel TV is really nice.
Flat screen, wide screen.
High definition picture.

Too bad that in order to get to the local ABC, NBC, CBS or PBS channels you need to navigate through the menu, to the second page, select Local TV, then select a particular station. Once on that station, you can not use the channel change to go up or down the line up.

No channel cruising on this fine looking system allowed!

Yes, you need to go back to the menu, second page, etc.

What is so important about the first page of the menu?

This is where all the charge or pay-per-view items are located. Oh, some of them spill over to the second page as well. But then at the end of that list is the Local TV.

You have to work to get at the free stuff.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Notes from the flight to Denver

The TV screens dropped silently from the overhead compartments. The coloring on them is different. Aren't these all the same make/model? This resembles more of a TV show room with competing models than an airline to show its entertainment on screens where the show is different. The closer you sit to the back of the plane the more the difference becomes obvious.

The lady who took the middle seat made quite an entrance. Large Dunkin Donut iced coffees in each hand, a bag on each shoulder, she struggled to get situated. I offered a hand to help with one of the drinks and ended up with both. It took about 5 minutes to settle. Bag under the seat, then pulled out and half emptied into the seat pocket, checking to see that when she put stuff into the seat pocket she could still get at it with the tray table down. I thought to myself I am glad I have the window seat today. She will likely make a few trips to return the coffee deposit.

The scenery out my window is stunning. I was able to pick out some major landmarks. the Finger Lakes, then Lake Michigan. After that, I got "lost". The checkerboard squares stretch away. Broken by ridges and rolling hills intermittently. Many of the squares have a circle inside, for irrigation I think? Square plug in a round hole comes to mind.

The movie ends. I wasn't really watching as my headset didn't work. The stewardess or flight attendant's remark was a gem: "Well that's a problem with these A320's, some of the seats work, some don't and there's nothing we can do about it. Aren't you lucky?" Maybe there is nothing that she can do about it airborne, but I gotta believe somebody can do something about it, like fix it.

The flight had some turbulence. The pilot in one of his updates told us the air traffic controllers told him the turbulence would end when we landed. Chuckle.

When the movie credits rolled, with the seat belt sign on, the number of folks who got up to go to the rear was amazing. The attendant came on the intercom, in her soft and fake voice, and announced that the seat belt sign was still on, that folks who had not gotten up should remain in their seats... etc... but no matter, the folks apparently were in their own world. They got up any way. Were they even listening? or had it been turned off like "Muzak" that you don't want to listen to.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

And you thought the $100 laptop was impossible!

The technologists in India are examining ways to build a laptop for $10. Yes, that's right. They already have a design that would get the cost down to $47 dollars, but $10 is the goal. No wonder that they said "no thanks" to the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project.

Read more about it here.

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They fixed the poles

You may recall some pictures of a creative way to re-do some utility poles here in Franklin.

They finally got a round to fixing them as seen here in this more recent photo.

Note that the pole in the foreground was moved.
Note also the poles in the background are relieved of their "splices".

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Revs Win!

It was a glorious Sunday. I had a good recording session at the track preparing for Passionate Runner. Had a good run with the Pacers. A good long walk with Dolores.

The Revolution played at home and won a good TEAM game, 3 different players scored goals and another 3 players got involved with assists as the beat Chicago 3-1.

Well done Revs!

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Saturday, May 05, 2007


A good word - "greening". It conveys action in slow motion, green color arising from where there wasn't as the world awakens in spring time.

It even sounds good to say - "greening".

I spent some time along the edges of our greening lawn "lion hunting". The fertilizer guy missed the edges more so than ever before. Now, the dandelions are running rampant. On the one hand, their yellow is beautiful against the green lawn. On the other hand, the greening lawn would appear so much better without them.

Down on hands and knees, bucket ahead of me, long pronged garden tool dips into the soil, between the grass blades, finds the master root of the dandelion and snaps it, I pull up the remains, toss into the bucket and move on.

Such is a lion hunt on a sunny Saturday
with greening lawns and trees in Franklin

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

NE Revs get robbed!

The NE Revolution got robbed tonight. They went down to DC to play one of their key rivals, DC United. The first half was chippy but scoreless. The second half opened with a nice goal by Andy Dorman to give the Revs a 1-0 lead.

There was a controversial call to give DC a penalty kick 4 minutes later. Jaime Moreno scored to tie the game at 1-1.

5 Minutes later Shalrie Joseph was shown an unjustified Red card and the Revs played with 10 men for the balance of the game. Two bad calls changed the game completely.

The defense rose to the occasion however, to keep DC at bay the rest of the way and close the game with the 1-1 result.

The Revs came away with a tie when they should have had a win. One point in this case is certainly better than none.

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